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In Praise of Shadows is as powerful an evocation of materiality's mysterious aura as anything ever composed. In breathtaking prose, Junichiro Tanizaki articulates the vital role of shadows (or the lack of direct light) not only in Japan's traditionally austere architectural design, but indeed in the long history of the Orient itself. He beautifully unpacks the power of shadows to render even the most everyday utensils and objects enchanting. Running throughout his essay is a dialogue of West vs. East -- of the harsh luminescence of Western lighting versus the warm embrace of the East's sparse use of light. This is essential reading not simply for those interested in Japanese culture and history, but rather for all who wish to further explore the power and agency of the material world. Sheer brilliance.
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